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Apple Varieties of the Future from WSU’s Apple Breeding Program

Video Summary

Dr. Kate Evans describes the four precision breeding techniques that she uses in her WSU apple breeding program: 1. DNA-informed choice of parents; 2. DNA-informed selection of seedlings; 3. Extensive evaluation of fruit; and 4. Extensive evaluation of selections.

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Speaker: Dr. Kate Evans, Assoc. Professor and Apple Breeder, Washington State University. Affiliation: WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Wenatchee, WA 98801-1230. Synopsis:  Dr. Kate Evans emphasizes the fact that for any new cultivar to be successful in the industry, it needs to provide consistently good quality at harvest, it should be able to be handled in a commercial packinghouse and it needs the ability to be long-term stored and come out of storage with good eating quality.  Other important considerations that she noted include how amenable it is to different training systems, how easy it is to thin, the specific harvest window, whether it can be one-time harvested (or not) and what the commercial packout is.  Dr. Evans described the use of precision breeding techniques including four steps: 1. DNA-informed choice of parents; 2. DNA-informed selection of seedlings; 3. Extensive evaluation of fruit; and 4. Extensive evaluation of selections.  Dr. Evans noted that now there are DNA tools to identify the following traits (fruit skin color, fruit acidity, fruit sugar, harvest date, fruit texture, fruit ethylene production, bitter pit susceptibility, fire blight susceptibility, scab susceptibility, and mildew susceptibility).  The use of these DNA tools can help to ensure that the correct parents are chosen for crossing and that seedlings lacking the desired traits can be discarded before they go to the field.  This allows for the reallocation of resources to other parts of the breeding program to improve overall efficiency.  She describes briefly the fruit evaluation in the lab and selection evaluation at grower sites and consumer testing.  Dr. Evans shares some details about the newest selection, WA 38, that will be marketed as Cosmic Crisp TM brand.  She describes consumer testing comparing WA 38 very favorably with Honeycrisp.  Two related videos include: Fruit Testing at the WSU Apple Breeding Program and Cosmic CrispTM WA 38 Field Days.

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